DAILY NEWS: Hamptons Showcase Begins Amid Middle East Crisis; HBO Doc Series Opens; Artistic License Pick-Up
by Eugene Hernandez and Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
>>ON THE SCENE: Hamptons' Films in the Spotlight as Crisis in the Middle East Intensifies
(indieWIRE/ 10.13.00) -- Groups of festival-goers here gathered in front of
a TV set at the event's Hunting Inn headquarters to watch live television
coverage of the dramatic developments in the Middle East. The heightened
crisis is drawing increasing interest to a new section of the Hamptons
International Film Festival -- "Films of Conflict and Resolution." The
special segment of programming offers a lineup "focusing on peace-building
films" from Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers.
Calling yesterday's developments in the Middle East "very saddening and
disappointing," Festival co-director of programming Linda Blackaby somberly
discussed the new section of the Festival with indieWIRE. She indicated that
in coming up with a list of films for the strand, the goal was to offer
"personal voices" that can provide "a deeper [perspective] than what we are
seeing on the news." With a hope of presenting films that will instigate a
dialogue, she added, "It is important to have filmmakers from the region
speaking in their own voice."
One of those filmmakers is an Israeli from Jerusalem who now lives in London
-- Tayla Ezrahi, co-director of "The Jahalin," a documentary about a Bedouin family in the West Bank. Having just arrived on a plane from London, Ezrahi
asked indieWIRE for an update on the developments of the day and expressed
her doubt about the impact that a film can have on such a difficult situation.
"I do not think that films can change someone's opinions," she told
indieWIRE, "That should be a goal, [however], in the Israeli/Palenstian
context I think it is difficult to achieve that." After talking about the
subject for awhile, Ezrahi agreed that a film such as hers is not so much
about changing anyone's views, but more a way of her coming to terms with
Earlier this year, the Festival announced a ten-year commitment to the
section. It will award a $25,000 cash prize to films that "best depict the
humanity and issues of the region." Jurors for the section this year are
writer Marvin Kitman, the Soros Foundation's Diane Weyermann and actor William Hurt. The cash prize is underwritten by patrons Dam, Ewa and Tammy Abraham, as well as The Nobel Peace Laureates Foundation.
In what will undoubtedly be a compelling panel, Palestinian and Israeli
filmmakers on hand for the Festival will gather on Sunday at noon to
participate in a discussion about their films and their homelands. Among
those participating will be Film Curator and Scholar of Middle Eastern
Studies Livia Alexander from NYU, filmmaker Hanna Elias ("Emergence of Palestinian Cinema"), filmmaker Najwa Najjar ("Naim and Wadee'a"), Executive Director of the Global Action Project Susan Siegel, Chairman of the Abraham Fund Alan Slifka, and filmmaker Ilan Yagoda ("Rain 1949").
Clearly not wanting to take unnecessary advantage of what is a difficult international crisis, Blackaby summed up for indieWIRE, "I wish (this series) weren't as timely as it is." [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Non-fiction Showcase Screens HBO Docs in New York
(indieWIRE/ 10.13.00) -- FRAME BY FRAME, HBO's annual documentary film showcase, kicked off its third addition last night with a special private
reception at New York's Screening Room. Guests were treated to screenings of
Arlene Donnelly's "Naked States," about photographer Spencer Tunick, and Mira Nair's "The Laughing Club of India," a portrait of Bombay's laughter-as-healing phenomenon. Running today through October 26th, a total
of 21 upcoming HBO and "CINEMAX Reel Life" documentaries will screen, many
from this year's Sundance Film Festival.
"Presenting films of both established, award-winning and up-and-coming
documentary filmmakers, FRAME BY FRAME is intended to celebrate and bring
attention to the documentary genre," said HBO's executive vice president of
original programming Sheila Nevins. The festival also provides several of
the films with the requisite 7-day theatrical run to qualify for Oscar
New York premieres include Tracy Seretean's "Big Mama," the story of a
determined 89-year-old grandmother raising her young grandson, and "On
Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom," a profile of South African singing group
Ladysmith Black Mambazo, directed by Eric Simonson in association with
Leelai Demoz. [Anthony Kaufman]
[For more information, call (212) 512-7660 or visit:
>> Artistic License Acquires "Sound and Fury"
(indieWIRE/ 10.13.00) -- Artistic License will release Josh Aronson's
"Sound and Fury," according to Variety yesterday. The documentary, which debuted at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, also screened at the 2000 New Director's/New Films series in New York. Ronald Guttman and Nora Coblence are working with Artistic License on the release, according to the Hollywood trade publication. [Eugene Hernandez]